Why the OCD chopping board is offensive

amazon

We need to get the OCD chopping board taken off the market. But before you hate on me, let me explain.

Are you sitting comfortably?

This week, amazon tweeted again advertising the ‘OCD chopping board’ as one of the products they are selling. John Lewis and House of Fraser are also said to be selling the product.

OCD sufferers spoke out and expressed their disapproval, but, as usual, we were accused of having had ‘a sense of humour bypass’.

So let’s be clear about something, because I am becoming increasingly frustrated by comments such as ‘ffs, the humourless w*nker was offended by a chopping board’.

We don’t have a problem with the chopping board itself, and no, we won’t be having nightmares over whether the carrots really have been cut to the exact millimeter. In fact, many sufferers of OCD, such as myself, are completely unphased by whether something is symmetrical, straight, or ‘even’ enough. But that’s another story. I don’t want to blow your minds too much in one go, so I’ll save it for another day.

The problem is with the branding. If this were called ‘the perfectionist chef’, ‘the precision chef’ or ‘the obsessive chef’, that would be totally acceptable. A funny and useful gift even.

What is not ok is calling it ‘the OCD chef’. You wouldn’t use words like cancer, anorexia or diabetes in a product gag, and there’s no reason why OCD should be an exception to the social norm of not mocking the name of disorder or disease.

Interestingly, the company ‘Fred’ who produce the product have responded to such requests, and have actually changed the name to ‘the obsessive chef’. Similarly, companies such as Tesco, The Science Museum and Selfridges have responded to the calls of mental health campaigners and removed the product, and offered their apologies. Yet some companies continue to sell the old version of the product, and ignore all our requests for answers. It should also be noted that the old version of the product proclaims: “it’s OK to go a little overboard. And if you want to wash it twenty times after you use it, we won’t tell”.

From what I can see on twitter, most OCD sufferers agree the product is offensive. There are some exceptions. You will see sufferers saying that they are not personally offended by the product, and that there is no need for it to be banned, as it is just ‘a joke’ that can ‘help us make light of our condition’.

To them I say this: even if you are not directly offended by this product, the thing to take away is that every time it is marketed, sold or given as a gift, if reinforces the toxic misconception that OCD is funny. When sufferers themselves say the product is ‘hilarious’, it merely endorses the trivialisation of our disorder.

If OCD was better understood, this lack of unity among suffers would not be such a problem. But as confusion over the dark nature of the disorder remains so great, presenting a united front and getting the message out there that OCD isn’t amusing; it’s life ruining, has never been more important. We need to lead the way in the fight against mental health discrimination, not collaborate in it.

Let me reiterate, OCD is a very serious disorder that ruins lives. It is a recognised mental health condition, and many people will have had personal experience of it or know someone who has.

Creating a ‘self harm razor’ would lead to outrage, as would a ‘bulimic toilet’. In exactly the same way, amazon’s promotion of this product cannot be tolerated. Sadly, they are not being held to account because public misconception holds OCD to be funny.

First hand sufferers and their family and friends will be able to assure you, it is not.

To those who agree, please sign his petition. There are thousands of us across the globe suffering from this disorder, and thousands more who know someone going through the mental hell of OCD. I truly believe if enough of us take action, amazon and other companies promoting the product will have no choice but to respond.

https://www.change.org/p/amazon-remove-from-sale-the-ocd-chef-cutting-board-and-apologise-for-profiteering-at-the-expense-of-genuine-mental-illness

The Inbetweeners: fashion for seasonal transition

Ah October, the where clouds burst into sun and back again in five minutes flat. No matter – I’ve put together an outfit that’s guaranteed to make seasonal-transition a pain-free experience. So now you can shine: whatever the weather!

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EMILY LOVES: Oh wow. I can’t get enough of these new ShoeLicks stickers, the latest fashion accessory that gives your high street heels a unique designer touch in seconds. And at £2.99, you really can’t quibble. I’ll take one of each! Available from: Bentall Centre, Kingston or shoelicks.com

WIN: Epsom based Anna Gambel, who runs Moody Tom Jewellery, has launched a breathtaking new collection of Freshwater Pearl Jewellery from Shanghai. We have 15 handmade and ethically sourced freshwater pearl bracelets (each worth £14.95) to give away. To get your hands on one, enter here

FULL PRODUCT LISTING:

Mala Alisha Scarf, £225, Courtyard, Angel Gate, Guildford, courtyarduk.co.uk 01483 452 825

H by Hudson Kive”r Ankle Boot, £99, Hengelo, West Street, Haslemere, hengeloshop.com

Dagmar – Anissa Tweed Coat, £415.00, Luxe Layers, luxe-layers.com

Citrines, smokey quartz and diamond earrings, £775, Michael Platt, Church Road, Wimbledon Village, michaelplatt.co.uk

Light grey top with copper hand foiled stag design £59, 1of1, Teddington High Street, 1of1design.co.uk

Tortoiseshell plastic frame sunglasses with metal arm detail. £16, Topshop, topshop.com

La Parisienne – Jet Black Jean, £107.00, Plum Boutique, Twickenham, plum.boutique

Kaleidoscope tote bag, £45.95 B London Boutique, Barnes High Street, blondonboutique.com

Duckhead Auto Open Umbrella, £22, American Apparel, americanapparel.co.uk

Spot Raincoat, £35, Cath Kidston, cathkidston.com

Me: So you know it’s #BankHoliday Monday tomorrow?
Dog: Does that mean we can hang out all day?
Me: Yes!
Dog: OMG

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Part 2: Why it’s still not ok to sell ‘OCD sanitiser’, even if some people with OCD are not offended

Following on from my blog post on Friday and massive support on twitter from others who, like me, were offended by BlueQ’s product, ‘OCD sanitiser’ made the headlines this week.

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My thoughts on the product were featured in the Daily Mail, along with ‘that’ photo of my hands at their reddest because of excessive sanitiser use (see my earlier blog entry), previously hidden by me out of fears over what others would think. The Telegraph were also quick to condemn Paperchase and other shops selling the ‘funny gift’.

Response has been mixed. Hundreds of you took to twitter to thank me for standing up and showing my picture. Many of you wrote that you were also very upset by the product, and said that getting it banned was a huge victory for sufferers of OCD. You sent love and warm words from all over the world, and I want to thank you for that. Yes, it made me feel warm and fuzzy inside. And yes, maybe I even shed a tear…

Reception on the Daily Mail was, probably unsurprisingly, not quite so cosy.

Of course, I knew I was playing with fire allowing the DM to publish my thoughts. But I decided that in the interests of getting the product banned, it was going to be worth it. In other words, I was prepared for a hoard of uninformed comments telling me that OCD wasn’t a real disorder, that I didn’t have a sense of humour, and that I was a politically correct a-hole.

What I hadn’t expected was the lack of support from fellow sufferers of OCD. Interestingly, this negativity was not mirrored on twitter, where I can confidently say that 99% of messages from fellow sufferers was very positive. I didn’t have to explain what was wrong with the product; they just got it.

This blog post is not dedicated to them, but rather to the angry OCD sufferers commenting on the Daily Mail forum.

My first thought was this: perhaps they don’t have OCD. As in, perhaps they are part of the large chunk of the population who describe themselves as ‘a bit OCD’. If so, their lack of comprehension is understandable. How can something be offensive, when all it mocks is a funny, eccentric personality quirk?

However, several of the commenters add that they have been diagnosed with the disorder, and as a result I think it’s important to address the reasons why it’s still not ok to sell ‘OCD sanitiser’, even if some people with OCD aren’t offended. So. Welcome to Part 2 of my war on ignorance!

I’m going to use an analogy as I think it will make things clearer. If someone makes a racist toy that demeans Chinese people, it’s unlikely that every single member of the Chinese population will be offended. And some Chinese people may even be able to laugh at the offending toy. However, a large percentage of people will be offended. And it is for this reason that the toy will be taken off the market, or most likely not even put on in the first place. In other words, when judging whether a product is discriminatory, it is not enough for a few people to say ‘well I’m not offended, so you shouldn’t be either, get a grip.’ A product is discriminatory in and of itself. Don’t justify something by the people it doesn’t hurt, but rather by the people it does.

Secondly, I’m not sure that my fellow sufferers have thought of the implications of saying the product doesn’t bother them. OCD is extremely misunderstood by the general population. By way of example, here are some of comments I received on the Daily Mail:

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You get the idea. So when OCD sufferers secure a victory and get a product banned, and it is followed by actual sufferers of the disorder coming forward and endorsing such products, it merely adds to the highly dangerous perception that OCD is funny and amusing. It boosts stigma as it enables OCD doubters to say ‘look, it is a bit of a joke disorder, even the sufferers don’t take it seriously.’ And how can we expect others to respect our struggle, if we don’t respect it ourselves?

If OCD was better understood, this lack of unity among suffers would not be so devastating. But as confusion over the dark nature of the disorder remains so great, presenting a united front and getting the message out there that OCD isn’t amusing; it’s life ruining, has never been more important. We need to lead the way in the fight against mental health discrimination, not collaborate in it.

On a final note, to everyone who told me I need to get a sense of humour, I have it from at least two sources that I can actually be pretty funny, if I try really REALLY hard. And yes, ‘laughter weakens the monster’, that’s why I attend a support group where being able to approach issues with humour is part of our written code. But it only works when people are laughing with you, not at you. Capiche?

Why selling ‘OCD hand sanitiser’ is offensive

There seems to be some major confusion over why it’s not ok to sell a product that mocks OCD.

For those of you who haven’t seen, take a look at the hand sanitiser below:

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Yesterday, I tweeted the product image along with the names of companies who sell it, and the company who produce it, which is BlueQ. I encouraged people to retweet my message if they agreed that the product should be taken off the market.

Since sending my first tweet, I’ve received messages accusing me of being a ‘politically correct fascist’, and telling me that I have let ‘modern sensitivities’ be taken to far. Another twitter user commented that there’s ‘no room for humour these days’.

In fact, even leading OCD expert Dr David Veale says he hopes that ‘most people with OCD and fears of contamination will be able to laugh at this product’.

However, I feel the notion we should be able to just ‘laugh off’ this product is incorrect.

So for everyone who doesn’t get it, here’s why.

1. OCD is a very serious disorder that ruins lives. It is a recognised mental health condition, and many people will have had personal experience of it or know someone who has.

This particular product mocks contamination OCD. Sanitiser is not inherently harmful, and is a useful tool when used correctly. But, when used incorrectly, the consequences can be terrible. Here’s a photo of me when my hands were at their worst because of my obsessive sanitiser use. I’ve always hid this picture, but I’m going to be brave and share it because I think it makes my point well.

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So, let’s compare sanitiser to razor blades and toilets, which are again, not inherently ‘bad’, but can be when used wrongly.

Selling sanitiser is fine. Selling razors and toilets is fine. But to sell a product that could be used wrongly and then mock that use is dangerous.

If BlueQ thought it would be funny to sell razors that said ‘self harm approved’ on them, the world would go mad. Similarly, selling a toilet with the disclaimer ‘come on bulimics: it’s vomit reinforced!’ would lead to outrage.

Well I would like to make the suggestion that what BlueQ have done here is just as bad, but it has not been held to account because widespread public opinion holds OCD to be something funny and amusing, like a slightly eccentric personality trait that makes someone endearing.

This leads me on to my second point. Bearing in mind such poor public understanding of OCD is rampant, a product like this is hugely misleading. It simply adds to the notion that OCD isn’t something we need to take seriously, and that it’s ok to laugh at it and mock sufferers. In other words, it’s a stigma inducer that condones tasteless humour and attitudes.

For this reason, it is not enough for companies to try and avoid accountability by saying a percentage of products will be donated to OCD charities (as some have done in response to criticism). Let’s use another analogy to make this clearer. Selling a product that makes fun of black people is not ok. And even if 50% of the profits go to a charity that fights racism, it’s still not ok. Sometimes, the price of a bad joke is just too high to be cushioned by by a media savvy charity donation.

So, it’s name and shame time. Below are photos from websites that sell the product. If you think I’ve missed any companies off, don’t hesitate to let me know. Please share this article and retweet me if you are on twitter (I’m @emilydavis93). Together, we can get this product banned!

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10 things British people always say and what they really mean

 

Ah, you gotta love us Brits. A little incomprehensible at times, but hey. The best intentions underlie every conversational blunder. Here’s my top pick of things Brits always say, and what they actually mean.

“Are you ok?”

Your leg is no longer attached to your body. I don’t know what else to say

 

“Who did you want to speak to? Oh. She’s not in the office today. Can I help you with something?”

Shit, there’s no way I’m going to be able to help you, but being British means I’m constitutionally obliged to offer my assistance

 

“No, it’s not a major issue”

Things will never be ok again. Ever.

 

To a small independent shop owner: “I might come back later…”

Oh gosh, everything in this shop really is awful, but I don’t want to hurt your feelings.

 

“Don’t panic”

PANIC! PANIC!

 

“It could be worse”

Yeah, like, if the world was ending

 

“I don’t know what to say”

There are a million things I want to say, but they could be construed as awfully offensive

 

“Maybe you didn’t get my text?”

I know you got my text bitch.

 

“Happy belated Birthday!”

I hate myself. I can’t believe I let this happen. I let my family down, but most of all, I’ve let myself down.

 

“Come on, cheer up mate!”

GET A GRIP. WE DIDN’T WIN TWO WARS LIKE THIS

 

 

 

 

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